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Democrats propose sleep apnea legislation to force DOT to act

Because sleep apnea causes higher risks of trucking accidents in Missouri and around the country, the Department of Transportation worked on a sleep apnea rule throughout 2016. With the new administration’s anti-regulatory approach, however, the DOT announced in August that it was withdrawing the rule. Democrats in both the House and Senate have reacted by proposing bills that would force the DOT to act.

The bills would force the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to move forward with the sleep apnea rule. Before the Trump administration, the FMCSA had worked on the rule for a year, soliciting input from medical professionals and industry stakeholders. When President Trump came into office, he announced a drive to reduce the number of regulations.

Under the rule, guidance for doctors, carriers and truck drivers about when drivers should be referred for sleep apnea testing would be streamlined. Currently, companies and medical examiners use a mishmash of different criteria, leading to industry-wide confusion and complaints from drivers that they are being referred for testing that they don’t need.

Sleep apnea causes sufferers to stop breathing momentarily many times a night. This causes people to not get adequate sleep, which may then lead to driver fatigue during their work shifts. Drowsy driving is dangerous and increases the risks that the drivers may cause truck accidents. This risk is why the legislators are pushing for the rule’s implementation. With treatment, people who have sleep apnea may get better sleep, improving their driving. Those who are injured in truck accidents caused by drowsy drivers might benefit by consulting with experienced personal injury lawyers in order to see what recourse might be available.